Cancer survivor puts her energy into charity

November 09, 1992|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

Eight years ago, Dottie Jones was diagnosed with two forms of cancer that had spread from her arms to her liver. Doctors placed her in a hospice program where she could die peacefully.

But Mrs. Jones defeated the odds. She now lives in Lothian, where she, her husband and five children moved from New Jersey when they lost their home trying to pay the medical bills.

Now, the 49-year-old woman spends her time helping others. Every week, she distributes thousands of pounds of fresh vegetables to needy families in southern Anne Arundel and northern Calvert counties.

Last weekend, she organized a hot lunch for the homeless and other people in need in downtown Annapolis.

"I wanted to put something on that brought the community together," Mrs. Jones said. "We have to make these people aware that we care about them."

About 100 people had come into the Stanton Community Center on West Washington Street to get lunch by 2 p.m. Saturday.

Most brought their families and said they were pleased because not many soup kitchens are open in Annapolis on weekends.

"I'm hungry," said a man who would only identify himself as R. Galloway. "We are in need of more soup kitchens."

Mr. Galloway, 43, said he lives in various places from Baltimore to Prince George's County and has been homeless for six years.

He said the turkey and chicken Mrs. Jones prepared made one of the best meals he had had in some time.

"I wasn't expecting this," he said, packing up his clothes and grabbing another plate for the road. "This was a surprise. It's not good to be hungry."

Mrs. Jones said she knows what it's like to be on the street without food.

"We lost everything when I was diagnosed with cancer," she said. "I myself was homeless. There were people who gave me help, and I can never repay them."

But she tries every week.

Every Saturday, she gets up at 2 a.m. and drives to Landover to gather vegetables put out by a group called the Washington Ministers Alliance.

She collects up to 4,000 pounds and delivers the vegetables to families in her area, including many elderly people who are no longer able to leave their homes.

She recently decided to do something similar in Annapolis. She and her church friends put the word out to area churches, shelters and elderly housing complexes about the feast, which she and her family and friends spent all day Saturday cooking.

"You should have seen her house," said Pastor Dwight David Brock of the Christ Temple Church. "It was filled with food. You couldn't walk in the house. Rest was out of the question."

But to Mrs. Jones, it is a job that could and should be done by everyone.

She cannot put on such a lavish display every day, or every week, but she hopes other organizations will join her cause.

"It would be nice to not just do this once a year," she said.

"We would like to do it every week. There are enough churches out there to do this."

Mrs. Jones said she simply has to do her part: "I can't explain it. The more I do, the more I want to do."

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